Small Business Heroes

Entrepreneur stories: Rebecca Sherrington

15 Dec 2014

Scottish fashion designer Rebecca Sherrington has twice been nominated as Young Designer of the Year at the prestigious Scottish Fashion Awards, named among Vice magazines 'Creative 30' (30 of the most creative talents under 30 in the UK), and selected as one of the top five designers discovered by The Herald.

She started her career by studying fashion design and manufacture at Cardonald College in Glasgow, before completing her degree at Glasgow Caledonian University. Since then her Rebecca Torres label, so called after Rebecca herself pre-marriage, has gone from strength to strength around the world.

Here’s the story of how one girl made her brand stand out.

So let’s talk about Rebecca Torres, how did you get started?

After studying I took some time out and interned in London and Glasgow with stylists as I thought that was the path I wanted to take but I soon realised that design was what I truly enjoyed.  

Actually, it was never my intention to start a business. At that point I knew I wanted to be a designer and create but in the beginning I never thought it would be for my own brand.  

The fashion industry is notoriously competitive; when you finished training, what were the most challenging issues you had to overcome?

I guess the most challenging time after studying was when reality hit me and I realised it doesn’t just fall into place like you imagine. You have to really work hard and network, meet people and be confident in what you are doing.  

That’s interesting. So after you started working on your own pieces when did you get your biggest break and really felt like your label was established? 

After working for a couple of years doing local shows and bespoke orders, I was approached by a company who wanted to take my collection and pitched to [online retailing giants] ASOS. After they bought my collection, that’s when I felt I could make a real go of my brand. It gave me the confidence and financial start I needed to do so.

ASOS Bodycon

How far have you come since then? 

The brand has come so far and I couldn't have done it without the help of organisations like the Princes Trust, Fashion Foundry and DEG and of course my customer’s, friends and family. The brand has been featured in Vogue.com, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Vice, Wallpaper and many more blogs and magazines. 

The brand won “best E‐commerce site” at the BT Young Entrepreneur 2013 awards and shortlisted at the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards 2012 eventually being given the award for “Highly Commended Business”. The House of Fraser group have also really helped boost the brand profile, they selected it as part of House of Fraser “Bringing Fashion Home” and House of Fraser Presents” campaigns.

Being recognised in both fashion and business circles is important as you can’t run a label with just great designs.

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And you have been involved in the Scottish Fashion Awards too, that must have been special…

I was nominated in both 2012 & 2013 for Young Designer of the Year. It was a great experience and good to celebrate with fellow peers as we all work so hard to create and put our vision out there. Plus I got to meet David Gandy and Alexa Chung which was a massive bonus! 

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How did you take your label from Scotland to an international market? Do you feel that digital marketing and its growth have been essential for your business? Or has it made it more competitive?  

Once the collection was on ASOS I started to receive international customers. 

A US TV star wore one of my pieces on VH1 which lead to huge amounts of coverage and in turn sales through our website. It was crazy, we have a waiting list of 100 people waiting for this one dress. We couldn’t have achieved that if we hadn’t been selling online, having an online presence is very important these days. 

What is the most difficult thing about being a fashion designer? And what’s your favourite thing? 

In a nutshell the most difficult thing truly is not having enough hours in the day but the best thing is seeing one of my customers in something I’ve created; that’s when I realise it’s worth all of the hard work. 

As a young entrepreneur what did you find were the biggest challenges when it came to understanding things like tax and business planning? 

Understanding that side of the business for me was a challenge I didn’t understand it at all. If I’m honest I left it to my accountant and didn’t pay much attention at first but now it’s just as important as the design side of the brand as you need to be able to understand what’s going on in your business for it truly work. 

I redo my business plan every year and adapt it to what has been going on throughout the year as of course things crop up that you haven't always accounted for.  It’s part of my job and love it or hate having an understanding is key. 

We completely agree! So, what’s your best Rebecca Torres story?    

Recently I got to be Alicia Keys seamstress during the MTV EMA awards which was nuts. I had an hour to fit her, get back to the Hydro [the venue] then get back to her with the dress. I can honestly say I have never been more stressed in my life but it was fine and she loved the dress. It was amazing getting to meet someone so talented and down to earth.  

What’s been the best project you’ve worked on? 

I would have to say was doing an LBD competition with Brand Alley, I had to design my version of LBD and I ended up being selected as the winner. I also really enjoyed getting to collaborate with jewellery designer Georgia Wiseman and Lash brand WE ARE FAUX, it’s great to collaborate with different brands and artists. 

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How would your customers describe you in 3 words?

I hope it would be: fun, contemporary and different. 

What’s next for your business?  

We are going to be launching a new line of products that we haven’t done before. A lot of time has gone into making sure I get it right so fingers crossed! All will be revealed in 2015. 

Well we can’t wait!

Keir Wright-Whyte

photo

Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.

  

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